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What questions should you ask your real estate agent when buying a home?

Real Estate Transaction

Choosing the right real estate agent can make all the difference in the world. Not only because you want a real estate agent with the necessary knowledge and experience to help you navigate the process, but also because you want a real estate agent that shares your schedule and is responsive to your needs.

For help determining what questions you should ask when choosing the right real estate agent for you, we turned to 26 year veteran, Jackie Ruddy (licensed in 1993) of Century 21 Jack Ruddy Real Estate!

Questions for choosing the right realtor

Have you worked with a lot of home buyers in my price range, desired location, etc.?

Just like any field, some real estate agents specialize in particular customer needs, price ranges, and locations. This allows them to be extremely well versed in nearby amenities, financing options that may be available to you, and what you can expect within your price range. Even if they don’t specialize in your price range or location, they may be able to refer you to someone in their offices that does!

When looking for a real estate agent that is uniquely qualified for your house hunt, Jackie recommends: “Most agents do it all – they sell from $0 to $500,000+ and service their entire MLS areas. Some agents even go outside their normal service area to neighboring MLS providers. If an agent is new to the real estate world then make sure they have a credible, experienced, support system that can give guidance to you & you are able to see or talk to someone such as their manager, broker, or experienced fellow agent. The more experienced the agent is in terms of how long they are licensed, the areas in which they sold property, and their average sales price can factor in on whether you feel it’s a right fit. I personally would not work or show homes in an area I was unfamiliar with. I would refer it to the professionals I respect in that area, but that’s just me. It makes sense that a buyer match up with an agent that is familiar with the area they want to live in as well as price range, but going with a high volume agent may not bode well for those who expect availability and quality service.”

How quickly can you schedule a walkthrough of a home I want to see?

In the fast paced world of real estate, what’s available today, may be under contract tomorrow. If you’re interested in a home, it’s extremely important that you be able to take a look at the property as quickly as possible.

Jackie suggests: “When seeking an agent to help find the home of your dreams one of the questions you should ask is if he/she is available during the times you would need to look at homes due to your work responsibilities. Also, all parties purchasing the home should be available to view the property at the same time in order to be able to act swiftly in this competitive housing market. If your agent is on vacation, out of the area, or suffers a death in the family or a medical emergency do they have a replacement agent in their office that jumps in and covers for them? This is another important question to ask before you start working with someone. Trying to hunt down an agent who can’t be reached is very frustrating and can potentially prevent you from seeing a home that might be the one. Another point I really want to make is that although you may not want to tie yourself to one agent because you want to get immediate showings by working with as many real estate agents as you can this can backfire because you are not allowing one real estate agent to truly get to know you & what your needs are. Also, you will lose out because agents won’t take you seriously which can result in lack of communication & follow up. Having a great real estate agent is having an ally who is fighting for you and it can make all the difference in how smooth the sales transaction goes from offer to closing.”

How will you keep in touch with me and how often can I expect updates?

Do you prefer phone calls or texts? Are you available in the morning or afternoon? Both you and your real estate agent have personal lives and obligations, so it’s important to choose a Realtor that will be available when you are.

Jackie stresses the importance of having an agent that is available when you need them: “Today’s real estate agent should be able to communicate and be flexible with a buyer’s preferred method of communication between the hours of 8 am – 9 pm. Many people prefer texting but there are still buyers who prefer to speak directly over the phone. If your real estate agent does not respond to your calls, texts, or emails within a few hours (between the hours of 8 am – 9 pm) then take it up with them and give them a chance to redeem themselves. If trying to reach your agent becomes more of a challenge than finding the home of your dreams then consider moving on to someone more accessible.”

How do you help buyers come to a decision?

For most home buyers, the “perfect” house doesn’t exist. You may want to repaint, change the landscaping, or even renovate certain rooms. While your decision is entirely your own, your real estate agent is a great person to bounce ideas off of and gain valuable insight from.

Helping a home buyer make a decision can be tricky. Jackie always tries to put things in perspective: “It’s important that you define MUST haves (Can’t Live Without), WANT to have (would be nice but could live without), & DEFINITELY do NOT want (Absolutely no way). Break it down into categories – location, school district, type of dwelling, exterior/interior features. This will help you identify the right one when it comes along. Keep in mind paint color, flooring, and ugly bathrooms are all correctible. On the other hand, the location & school district are forever.”

Questions about the home buying process

What would you suggest as the first step in the process?

Buying a home can be confusing, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer! A real estate agent will be able to walk you through the process and make sure that everything is organized and in place.

But what is the first step in the process? Jackie says: “Getting pre-approved with a reputable lender is the most important step in the home buying process. It is helpful in so many ways:
1.) It keeps your price range in focus so that you are not looking at properties that are out of reach. If you were to look at $200,000 homes and only qualify to purchase a home for $150,000 then you would be comparing all the homes you saw at $200,000 to those at $150,000 and it will be a huge let down.
2.) It will help you find a real estate agent who will be committed to finding the home you want.

3.) When you find that perfect home there’s no stopping you as long as you have a pre-approval in place. Showing the seller that you are qualified with a reputable lender helps cement the deal.”

Is there anything I should avoid in the home buying process?

Between the various financing options available, inspections, the offer process, and even bank owned properties, no two real estate transactions are the same. While your real estate agent is committed to helping you through the process, there may be things they recommend against due to their potential to overcomplicate the home purchase.

For home buyers looking to avoid potential complications, is there anything you should avoid? Jackie says: “YES! It’s imperative that during the viewing stage, just looking stage, AND under contract stage (seller accepted your offer & you applied for the mortgage) – Never ever open new credit during the home buying process. Hold off applying for new credit cards, purchasing furniture or appliances, or changing jobs until AFTER the settlement (closing) date.”

How can you help me fit house hunting into my busy schedule?

We’re all extremely busy. Between work and family, you may not know how you’re going to fit house hunting into your already crowded schedule. Fear not though, because it can be done!

Jackie recommends: “There are so many things you can do with technology these days. View listings online to take a look at the exterior/interior photos to see if it appeals to you. Drive by the home and check out the neighborhood prior to scheduling an appointment – if you do not like the neighboring property or the traffic on the street then you just saved yourself wasted time and energy. There are agents that can & will accommodate crazy schedules and this is something that should be agreed upon before the hunt begins. 7am and 9pm showings are sometimes necessary (as long as the seller approves of those times many real estate agents are not set on a 9-5 pm schedule and will usually be able to adapt to your schedule). You might have to look at homes on your lunch hour or miss your dinner but that’s how we know you’re serious about finding a home.”

How can I make my offer more attractive other than just increasing the price?

Finding “THE” house is so incredibly exciting. You’re probably ready to make the offer and move in already! But how can you make YOUR offer the one they pick? How can you ensure that your offer is attractive, especially if you can’t increase your offer price?

Jackie suggests: “Let’s face it, PRICE is huge to a seller & a determining factor for them, but other factors often are weighed when reviewing offers such as: a strong pre-approval from a reputable LOCAL lender, type of mortgage, inspection contingencies, the amount of deposit money to be held, and closing time frame (whether you can close soon is a plus if the property is unoccupied so the seller does not have extra expenses maintaining the property, or for the seller who needs extra time to re-locate – being flexible and allowing extra time for them to move).”

We hope you have a smooth house hunt and are moved in before you know it! We appreciate Jackie taking the time out of her schedule to answer some questions about the home buying process and finding the right real estate agent for you! If you’re looking to purchase a home and would like to discuss this with Jackie, she can be reached at (570) 344-6724.

As always, should your new home need a little TLC, such as Mold Remediation, Radon Mitigation, or Asbestos Abatement, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Disaster Blaster!

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